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How useful are RCTS in evaluating transparency and accountability projects?

Date added: October 6, 2014

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This paper sheds light on existing evidence about the Random Controlled Trials (RCTs) in the evaluation of social accountability tools in service delivery.

It asks where and under what conditions might RCTs be the most appropriate approach. What other evaluation approaches would be more effective and more robust, given the particular characteristics of transparency & accountability programmes?

To date, there have been relatively few impact evaluations for transparency and accountability programmes, despite the amount of donor funding and attention given to the field.

Evaluations tend either to be concentrated in certain sectors and countries or are in very early stages themselves and therefore it is too soon for lessons to be drawn. For technology-based initiatives the pool of evaluations is even smaller, reflecting the relative youth of these kinds of interventions.

This research report addresses the following questions:

  • What should impact evaluations be measuring in the context of T&A?
  • What do we know about RCTs and other experimental approaches in evaluating T&A initiatives?
  • How do RCTs measure the impact of T&A programmes?
  • What can RCTs tell us about the effectiveness/success of T&A initiatives?
  • What are the most appropriate ways to measure impact in T&A?


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